All blogs are property of authors and copying is not permitted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Self Publishing: Luck or Wisdom?


Waaaaaaaaay back, like I don't know, a couple of summers ago when I first launched myself headlong into the world of writing for publication I started paying attention to people who said words like "kindle" and "self publishing" in one sentence.  Sounded exhausting to me.  First you write your novel.  Then you find a reputable (non predator) editor to pay upwards of $2000 or more to help you, essentially, re write it.  You re-write, then hire a cover artist.  You push a couple of buttons on the internet machine and viola!  You're published and have joined every Tom, Sue and Mary who think their novel is the best thing since Margaret Mitchell or Stieg Larsson.

But hey, it can't be much worse than writing, crit grouping and beta reading yourself cross-eyed, polishing, writing blurbs and synopses to fit some arbitrary formula, subbing, waiting....waiting...waiting...only to get the "thanks but no thanks" form email.

Self publishing success stories abound:

Amanda Hocking

John Locke (no not the bald guy on Lost).

Barry Eisler (whom I will point it is Very Hot and could be a  cover model himself)

Cory Doctorow (who also has one of the most amusing blogs ever:

So many stories of success after failure.  Uplifting really.

And this from the Guardian UK which reminds us that even Her Royal Royalties J.K. Rowling has "bowed to the inevitable" and agreed to e-publish those Wizard Boy books on her website.

I'll admit, now that I've experienced "professional editing" from one publisher I feel a little spoiled.  However, recent frustration with the submission process and my frank desire to push the limitations of traditional "romance" or "erotic romance" rules (sometimes there just ISN'T an HEA that's obvious) have brought me back around to this topic.  And frankly, even the biggest e-publishers leave the bulk of promotion to their writers.  Unless you're agented and signed with a "New York Contract" all the contests, blog posting, facebooking, tweeting and generally staying alive in a room full of loud writers all clanging gongs to catch reader's attention is up to you anyways.

I've spoken with some of you about your experiences but I want to know MORE---tell me how you did it?  I realize there are tons of formats, and plenty of ways to fail, but that Kindle is the platform most used for its ease and generous share of profits.  I have secured what I think is a top-notch editor and have scoped out some very serious critique partners and set myself a deadline:  December 1, 2011.

If I do not have at least one if not two solid contracts with other publishers for my three novel length books by then--well, by golly Merry Christmas and pass the self-publishing pudding (and that guy up there).

Tell me your tale.


Paris said...

Thanks for the interesting post! I haven't jumped on the self-pub bandwagon yet but I've heard good things about the Kindle royalties. I think finding a good free-lance editor and cover artist would be at the top of my list.

Good luck!

Tina Donahue said...

I've heard a lot about self-publishing lately and I'd be interested to know how much writers are making going that route. Are they actually seeing better royalties that way, if you subtract their intial investment (cover, editing, etc.) and all the time they've spent?

Liz said...

I think you have to hit a critical mass of volume to make money, but isn't that the case for anything? (including beer....ya know, my day job?)

I found a good editor, the problem with many editors is they also write so finding a really great one who can make time for you and not break the bank? a challenge, I'd say.

In the interim I HAVE sold a book to a new publisher. Vegas Miracle, a very sweet, yet scorching hot novel will be released with Rebel Ink Press later this year.

Still have 2 novels in various forms of editing/CPs/Betas that might end up on the self pub shelf who knows?

Danielle Gavan said...

Speaking as someone who's done it.. You can find a good freelance editor for under $400 (depending on the size of your work - some editors will charge a fee based on word count ie. $1.25 per 300 words).

Cover art can also be obtained relatively cheap. There are artists out there who will design an eBook cover for $25-50...and they're awesome covers.

I'm published through a small press now but, had I chosen to go the self-pub route on Amazon with my novella Tarnished Tiaras, I would have already earned out any investment.

Molly Daniels said...

I went with iUniverse for the 1st one and through a series of errors on both their part and mine, got what I paid for at the time ($160). When I did it the 2nd time with AuthorHouse, I was waaaayy happier with the finished product. Paid more for it, but I learned a lot about self-promotion.

And that same year, a friend got me onto the yahoo chat loops, and started networking with e-pubbed authors. So for me, the self-pubb route took me to the e-pubb, and I'm perfectly happy:)

jean hart stewart said...

Absolutely fascinating. Been wondering about self-pubbing for some time so will be following all the comments...Jean

Katalina Leon said...

Great post Liz,
It's good to know there's always somewhere to take a book that may not be an easy fit with publishers.
I do think the bright side of the current publishing chaos is formula writing will break down or loosen up. There'll be room for much more.

Mary Corrales said...

Interesting post, Liz. I'm looking forward to updates on your progress. I haven't yet gone the self-publish route as I'm still learning with e-publishers, but I can see your point when you have a book that doesn't really fit with them but is nonetheless good.

Best of luck to you.

Anne Holly said...

Are you a member over at the forum Kindle Boards? If not, that's where I would start if I were going to self-pub - you can learn a lot there.

I am still continuing publishing my genre fiction with smaller non-agented epubs for now, but I plan on doing a personal, non-fiction project through Kindle by myself for 2012. I don't really have the cash to self-pub at the moment, to be honest.

KB is teaching me a lot.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

I have a couple dozen books on my shelves that I haven't submitted anywhere yet. Traditional publisher and epubs take forever to get a book through the process, and at my age, I don't have that kind of time. And no matter how you publish, you're responsible for marketing and publicity.

I decided to do it both ways. I have a book out with The Wild Rose Press and also self-published three books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A friend formatted the three indie books for a minimal fee and I found pictures on istockphoto for the covers, so I don't have much invested.

Liz said...

this is all GREAT info guys! I will find the Kindle Board asap...

Sandy said...


Some of those people who are self-publishing now already had big names with NY publishers, and in Barry Eisler's case, movies of his books.

I, also, was lucky to find a good editor, or I would never have been published. A critique group and a RWA chapter just wasn't enough to help me.

Anonymous said...

I've self-pubbed! And you self-pubbed book is ranking better than or close to my books published by Breathless Press. :)

Not that I make a lot of money on ANY of them, but it's nice to know that someone is buying them. (I know it's not my mom...she can't even use a computer, never mind an ereader.)

Shameless (but useful) plug: As far as finding a cover artist and a competent editor--author/artist Silke Juppenlatz and I are opening a company on August 1st, exclusively for self-pubbing authors. It's called Author-Wise Publishing Services and our goal is to create a one stop shop for self-publishing success (at a reasonable rate). (If you'd like to see an example of the gorgeous cover Silke designed for me, google Madonna of the Horses by Cynthia Selwyn. Since Silke redid my cover for me, my sales have grown! :)

Lisa Day said...

It is an exciting thing to do. I have 2 books with a publisher 3 rd to be out soon. and 3 self pub'd.
under another pen name.

I also signed with Rebel Ink and am set for Nov 2011 release.

You will work HARD promoting yourself no matter which way you go. I after evaluating both I decided I like the support of a Publisher and found I make more $$ with the higher priced books the publishers backs than the low price the public wants for new writers that are not household names.

Share buttons